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Same-store sales slow

NEW YORK — Skewed lower by sputtering sales at the nation's big discounters, same-store retail sales limped ahead 1.3 percent during the fourth and final week of August, growing at roughly half their pace of the first two weeks of the month, and falling far short of their target.

Putting up a 1.3 percent mark during the closing week of August, the Johnson Redbook Index improved modestly over the 1 percent growth recorded the week before, but was far shy of the 2.4 percent and 2.3 percent gains of the first two weeks of the month. And for all of August, same-store sales rose 1.8 percent, falling short of a targeted gain of 2.5 percent.

The month's weakness was all in the mass-merchant channel, and during the closing weeks of August, in stark contrast to recent historical trends, sales growth at department stores easily outpaced that at discounters. During the final week, department stores grew comps 1.7 percent, far outpacing discounter growth of 1 percent.

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